Pacific Organic & Ethical Trade Community

Mainstreaming Gender and Social Inclusion beyond Organics

Posted On: May 6, 2022

POETCom’s Gender and Value Chain Advisor, Flavia Ciribello (Back: 4th from left) with participants that took part at the focus group discussion for the development of the Gender Equality and Social Inclusion strategy

POETCom is partnering with University of New England and the ministries of agriculture in Fiji and Samoa to mainstream gender and social inclusion in the four-year project Pasifika Sheep and Goat Improvement Project, aiming to increase the production of small ruminants. The project is funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and implemented by the University of New England (UNE), in collaboration with the ministries of agriculture.

Through the project, POETCom is expanding its partnership and networks with key and strategic stakeholders while providing its expertise for mainstreaming gender in research methodologies and project implementation.

POETCom provides the overall technical advice and coordination for the development and implementation of the gender and social inclusion strategy, and related analysis, ensuring that social considerations are integrated well throughout the research and project activities and that interventions fairly target and engage a diverse representation of small ruminant farmers by gender, socio-economic status, age and ethnicity.

As part of the gender analysis, which will inform the development of the overarching strategy, POETCom, and the ministries of agriculture, conducted focus group discussions (FGDs) with women and men farmers in Fiji, in March and April 2022. Five group discussions were held in Viti Levu and four in Vanua Levu involving around 60 women farmers and 40 men.

The FGDs were designed to address the gap identified during the small research activity (SRA) conducted in 2016 to assess the feasibility of the project. One of the main learning of the SRA was that the project team encountered difficulties in engaging women farmers during the field research and there was the need to ensure their equitable participation to inform the project accordingly.

The research methodologies for the FGDs were designed to understand the role played by women and men in the sector, their activities and knowledge, and what their specific needs and aspirations are within the small ruminants sector. To create a safe space and facilitate deeper learning and meaningful participation by all the farmers, group discussions were separated along gender lines. The discussions were engaging and insightful. The learnings and findings will be used to develop and inform future interventions, especially in regard to training and capacity building opportunities, ensuring that they are relevant to everyone in their household and farm. The learnings show that women and men farmers can equitably share the benefits from their participation in the sector.

The implementation of the FGDs was done in close collaboration with the Fiji Ministry of Agriculture and provided a unique capacity building opportunity for the project officers to embrace the gender and social inclusion perspective in their work.

Findings and lessons learned from this collaboration will serve as basis for an integrated approach within the Land Resources Division of SPC and to build good practices in the livestock sector.

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